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Republican finally out of Minn. race

This time, Jon Grunseth says he won't change his mind. He really has dropped out of the Minnesota governor's race.

Grunseth's on-again, off-again campaign presumably came to an end Sunday. The Republican said he would leave the race after a woman claimed she had an affair with him while he was married.

Already Grunseth had battled charges he swam nude with teen-age girls nine years ago. Last week a news conference was called to announce he would end his candidacy because of those allegations. Instead, Grunseth vowed to keep fighting.

But just one day after his campaign manager angered many Minnesota Republicans by saying Grunseth wasn't about to quit under pressure, Grunseth did.

"There are three things that are extremely important to me _ my wife, my family, first and foremost; the Republican Party; the people of Minnesota," Grunseth said from his home 20 miles east of Minneapolis.

"And the events of the last three weeks have put enormous pressure on the family and I think on the political process and on the people of Minnesota," he said. "I therefore decided to withdraw as the Republican candidate for governor."

It was not immediately clear whether there would be a replacement Republican candidate on the ballot in the Nov. 6 election.

The state GOP executive committee can name a replacement for Grunseth on the ballot. However, party co-chairwoman Barb Sykora said it was uncertain whether the committee can be convened in time before Friday's deadline for candidates to be formally named if they are to appear on the ballot.

Grunseth's campaign was thrown into chaos Oct. 15 by the allegations from two women that he swam nude with them while they were teen-agers nine years ago. He nearly withdrew from the race Thursday but changed his mind several hours later following phone calls from supporters reminding him of their campaign contributions.

On Saturday, Grunseth acknowledged to the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper he had a "romantic" relationship with 32-year-old Tamara Taylor of Minnetonka, but said it ended "a long time ago _ in the early '80s."

Grunseth, 44, divorced Katharine Winston in 1983 and married his second wife, Vicki, in 1984.

Taylor claimed she had an intermittent sexual relationship with Grunseth from 1980 to 1989 while he was married to his first and second wives.

Grunseth said his affair with the woman ended before he remarried in 1984. He has denied the nude-swimming allegations.

Leon Oistad, Grunseth's campaign manager, had said Saturday that Grunseth would remain in the race, which will be decided in the Nov. 6 election.

Oistad blamed the latest controversy in the Republican's bid to unseat Democratic Gov. Rudy Perpich on a witch hunt led by the Star Tribune, which published Taylor's story Sunday.

Grunseth said his withdrawal from the race will be effective as soon as the necessary paperwork was processed.

Perpich is seeking a fourth term and state Auditor Arne Carlson, the runner-up in the Sept. 11 GOP primary, re-entered the race as a write-in candidate last week.

Grunseth said Republicans should unite behind his successor.

"It looks like we should support Arne Carlson," Sykora said.